Posted by: agapeflower | May 21, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

So the NY Times ran an Op-Ed today about what steals happiness: mainly, fear of the unknown.  It makes the case that when something bad does happen, and you anticipated it and are ready to face it, you can get through it.  The problem lies in worrying about what we don’t know – and when you don’t know, you might imagine things being much, much worse than what they actually end up being.

What do you think? True, not true? I think it’s certainly true for me — worry is surrounded by more worry, and that’s compounded by not knowing what’s happening next.

So how do we change that script? Is it manning up to make that scary doctor’s appointment, fixing that leaky faucet, ripping our eyes away from the TV screen in fear that the stock market will just keep falling, keep falling, keep falling?

It might be.  But I do know that in order to really face our fears and deal with them, it’s something that can be greatly helped with enouragement from people around us.  Let’s draw strength from each other and build one another up to help each other not be fearful.  Who knows, it might work!

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Posted by: agapeflower | May 18, 2009

Tweety Pie

If you Twitter, don’t miss where the party’s at! If you don’t, then…disregard the message?

If you’re in need of a self-esteem boost (and really, who isn’t these days?), make a list of your abilities.  Really.  It helps.  I am in the process of designing a website for myself, offering my services as a freelancer, and I realized that I’m capable of doing a lot of good! Haha.  So try it for yourself! You won’t be disappointed.

Posted by: agapeflower | May 18, 2009

A conversation.

Today I went to CVS to get the Sunday paper, like I do every Sunday. I get home, look through it, and find something’s missing.  I go back to CVS.

Me: Hi.  Listen, can I get another paper in exchange for this one? This one has no coupons in it.

CVS employee: *stares blankly*

Me: It’s just…that’s why we get the paper.  Well, that and Parade magazine.

CVS employee: *stares more* Oh. Uh, yeah. Go ahead.

______

…It was the funniest part of my Sunday.

Posted by: agapeflower | May 15, 2009

7 Quick-Takes Friday

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Here by way of Jen’s journal.  Stop by to pay her a visit and to catch the original 7 Quick-Takes!

1:  In the last week, I’ve developed a beautiful crush on the actor Patrick Fugit. He’s just about the cutest thing ever.

2:  I sold my first freelance press release (for money – the others have been pro-bono) the other day.  Sending out that invoice felt amazing.

3:  I’ve had the most horrible insomnia all week, and finally got a decent amount of sleep last night, thanks to Mr. Benadryl and no coffee after 9:00 p.m.  Caffeine keeps you up at night? Who knew?

4:  The last five minutes of the House season finale were awesome.

5: I’ve been part of the Pittsburgh Writer’s Project for a while, submitting some poems to their magazine and learning about the writing here in the city.  I’ve also gotten to attend their writer’s workshops each month, which are pretty amazing.

6:  Funny news story of the week: Prince William apologizes to 109-year old woman on the Queen’s behalf.

7:  EWTN has the longest novena to St. Joseph EVER, which my husband and I have been saying over the last week to help me find a full-time job outside of the freelancing.  Well, let’s hope nothing beats quality and quantity!

Posted by: agapeflower | May 13, 2009

Movie & Music.

I managed to catch the film “Wristcutters: A Love Story” on cable yesterday, and I liked it! It was cute.  The trailer is here.

Public Service Announcement: All Coldplay Fans!

This Friday, May 15, Coldplay will be giving away a live CD (called LeftRightLeftRightLeft), available for free download on their website.  Click here for more info.  That’s sure nice of the boys.  🙂

Posted by: agapeflower | May 12, 2009

I’ll be in the Anger Dome.

Regarding this story:

People sometimes ask me about priestly celibacy in the Church.  They know it’s not allowed, but they can’t figure out why.  “Wouldn’t it be so much better,” they tell me pleadingly (as if I had the power to change the rule, but whatever) “if priests were allowed to marry? You’d have so many more people going to church,” (I doubt it) they’d argue.  “The priest would know more about sex than they do now, and they’ll be more empathetic to our situations.”

First, a disclaimer: I am not a conservative Catholic.  I’m not.  The fact that I’m not has cost me friendships, and it’s been painful, but I go from what I believe and from what the Church teaches (well, most of the time – I’m getting there).  I also believe that we are not a church of “no no no,” but of “yes yes yes” – those yeses just happen to mostly be outside of what our society sees as yes.  And so there are people out there who would say to me, “Oh, of course she’s against this, she’s Catholic.”  But this is a big issue for me, and I don’t take that blanket statement as one that applies to me all the time.

Okay.  The men who are called by God to be Catholic priests take a vow of celibacy for a couple of reasons: 1) They are giving up everything they are to follow Christ and to live by His example; and 2) They need to do so, to provide for their Church properly.

A bit about the first point: celibacy is a sacrifice.  It’s not fun.  It’s not something (I’m sure) priests look forward to when they decide to follow this particular vocation.  But let’s put it in perspective.  Many priests (those who belong to orders, anyway) also have to give up all of their personal property and not take a huge salary (if any salary, depending on the order).  That is a sacrifice as well, and that is also painful.  People think that the vow of celibacy is greater than the vow of poverty, but I think it depends upon the person taking the vow and how much they love sex and how much they love money.  It’s not easy any way you slice it.  Same thing with those headstrong folk who have a hard time taking orders from headquarters (obedience is another vow).  People love to point out sex as being the first and only vow, but that is because we are hardwired to think of sex as first and only of anything in our society.

In short, yes –  celibacy is hard.  But it’s not everything.  It can be done.

About the second point (this is where my marriage comes in).  I am a married woman whose husband works hard all day.  When he comes home from work, we spend time together, and when we have children, I expect (just as he would of me) that we’ll work as hard as we can to focus on them and help them grow up properly (and not be demon children who can’t sit still for more than three minutes).  If they get in trouble, he’ll be there, any hour of the day or night.

And that’s what priests do, every hour of the day and night.  They can’t do both – minister to an entire parish, oversee all of its needs (and there are so many things that need to be done), be its “Father” (catchy title), and throw himself 100% into it, when he needs to also throw 100% into his marriage and family at home.  I honestly don’t think it can be done.  It’s the same thing when people divorce because a husband throws 100% of himself into his job working at a bank or for a large corporation – same argument.

*(I’m only speaking about the Catholic Church here – I know that other denominations have married pastors, but from what I understand, the dynamics are different between individual denominational churches and Catholic parishes so the analogy doesn’t quite apply here.)

So about this one priest.  What do I think? I think I have no idea about his situation, and I’m loath to trust a media who is out to attack anything with the word “Catholic” in it.  If I judge, then I’m like everyone else.  However, I did see an interview with him on TV the other day when he said that priests should be able to give up their vow of celibacy and still be priests, to which I can only say: good luck.  Not because the Church won’t allow you to, but because the woman you’ll have to share with the Church you serve will most likely have a problem with not being the center of your world (which is quite a large one, seeing as how he’s the “Oprah” of all Catholic priests, according to some reports).  I know this because I would feel the same way if my husband made that argument.

And also about this one priest: he is not a stand-in for all of the abuse cases that occured in the past decades by priests (which is a horrible, horrible thing that I do not condone).  He is not an open allowance to say, “Oh, well, you know the Church – at least this was a grown woman and not a little boy,” etc. etc.   Sexual abuse cases by priests in this country are less than 1%.  That means 99% of priests do not abuse. That does not excuse the behavior of the 1%, but it does put it in perspective that the Church is more than what people who don’t understand it perceive it to be.

[I have to stop my rant now, I’m running out of time.]

Condensed version of long rant: Just…stop hating, everyone.  There is so much time left in the day if you don’t.

ETA: *screams* – Now Salon has an article too.  I can’t even deal with it.

Posted by: agapeflower | May 11, 2009

Eureka.

Ever have one of those realizations that make perfect sense to you – and have them in the middle of the night, making it really hard to remember what it was you thought of the next morning? That’s what happened to me at 1:30 a.m., although, thank goodness, I was able to remember what it was when I woke up today.

So I’ve been worrying a lot about money, recently, right? And here was my revelation: it really doesn’t matter.  Not because money doesn’t matter (as much as I would like it not to), and not because money isn’t helpful (in good, spiritually healthy amounts).  But because, for me, I’d still worry anyway.

Let’s say I get some great windfall; let’s say I go to bed somehow tonight with a million dollars and I never have to worry about working again, or paying student loans again, or saving up for a house again.  Sounds good, right? But you can bet that the very next morning I’ll wake up worried about whether or not we’ll lose that money somehow; or whether or not we’re using it the way we should; or whether or not God approves of how I’m being a steward of His money (since I’ll probably just see it as His).  I’ll just find something else to worry about.

It’s just like how I view my weight: I’m not overweight now, but I was for a very long time.  When I lost all of that weight (and I don’t want to talk too much about that), two things happened: 1) I couldn’t tell the difference between what I weighed before, as a “fat” person and now as a “skinny” person, so I couldn’t “enjoy” weighing less; and 2) I was terrified of gaining the weight back, so I would worry about what I ate all day every day.

There was no joy in it, and I feel the same thing happening now with money.  How do I fix that? I have no idea…yet.  But I’m recognizing the pattern, so I think that counts for something.

Posted by: agapeflower | May 8, 2009

7 Quick-Takes Friday

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I’m trying this out from Jen’s journal, which I came across about a week ago.  Stop by to pay her a visit and to catch the original 7 Quick-Takes!

1.  I made homemade bagels last night.  They were delicious  (I followed this recipe).  I still need to work a bit on the shaping – and remember next time to use a NON-stick pan in the oven – but it is really, really easy and the sort of thing I would imagine kids would like to do too.

2.  I’m still searching high and low for a good one-year wedding anniversary gift for my husband.  Traditionally the gift is paper…just need to figure something out.  If anyone has any ideas, just let me know! 🙂

3.  Soapbox Rant: I’m not a socialist, but I’d really love to have some across the board healthcare.  I’ve always believed this: healthcare for every American is a human right, not something for those who can afford it.  Honestly, getting denied health insurance twice (so far) is not fun, and all it does is compound the worry and make things worse.  I’m not saying we should make it top of the line for everyone – I really am in favor of a just-the-basics plan, and those who want more can pay for their own upgrades.  I just need something that’ll cover me in case I get into a car accident or have a run-in with a chainsaw.  Too much to ask?

4.  In other medical news, the season finale of House is on Monday, and we’re way too excited for it, lol.

Mike:

[after watching promo which promises the most intense episode yet]
I can’t deal with it! The last time they said that they killed someone!!

5.  Best news story I’ve heard all week: Chuck Norris Cut-Out Protects Croatian Bakery.

6.  Just about two weeks until our friend Ed’s Ordination to the Priesthood! We are so excited!

7.  I’m scared to shower today.  [Not because I’m afraid of water or anything, but because painters are in the hallway and will need at some point to get in the apartment to paint our door.  I don’t want them to open it while I’m in the shower, that’s scary!]

ETA: I showered.  😀

In the hopes I’ll get over that (and the myriad of other issues I have these days), have a great weekend! 🙂

Posted by: agapeflower | May 7, 2009

Welcome to the Rodeo

Sometimes, God knocks you out.  He lays you out like a sucker, breaks you the way a wild horse needs to be broken.  It’s happened to me before, and it happened to me again the other day.  I was so broken by just the amount of fear I had, all of the uncertainty about the future.  We’re literally living day by day, and it’s so…terrifying.  (The irony is, of course, is that is how God intended us to live it.)

I’m someone who needs security, who likes to know when things are coming up and how to get ready for something, how to set it in order.  And life right now is just…not secure (at least, not in the way I would expect it to be).  Honestly, not only is it scary, but…it also makes me angry sometimes.

So it all came to a head the other day.  I got upset, and I prayed just to be able to understand what God is doing and where things are going.  And so I opened up my Bible randomly (I love doing that) to John 11, the raising of Lazarus.

I think there were a few things Jesus wanted to point out to me.  One being the obvious (sure, there’s a “delay,” but His timing is perfect to show His glory); but also something else.

I was particularly struck by Martha’s conversation with Jesus.  She acknowledges that Jesus has the power to heal her brother, but still submits to the knowledge and her faith that Jesus is the Messiah, in spite of the anger she feels over His not being there – on her terms, in her time-frame.  I felt as though God was asking me to believe the way Martha did, no matter how much it hurt her.

And through gritted teeth, I did the same.  I said to Him that I would trust in Him, the hardest thing I felt I had to do because it truly is such a leap of faith for me.  I won’t lie: it hurt.  It was physically painful, that brokenness.  And it wasn’t like the minute I acquiesed the phone rang off its hook with job offers for me.  But that’s okay.  I felt that God was telling me it was going to be okay.  It’s a lesson I need to learn.

This day-by-day thing…it’s funny, because I have seen some changes in recent weeks.  My relationship with my husband has been absolutely fantastic.  We laugh more together, we spend more time together, and we cherish it.  I’ve also been a bit more productive with a project I’m working on, which excites me.  And I have more hope, which is always a good thing.

Posted by: agapeflower | May 6, 2009

What I Am…

What I am currently:

Reading:

I just finished Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, and am hoping to get to the library soon to pick up Dave Cullen’s Columbine.  Best book so far this year, though, belongs to Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is pretty amazing.

Listening to:

  • Lupe Fiasco
  • Old-school Audio Adrenaline
  • Matisyahu
  • 2Pac
  • Matt Redman

Watching:

We’re still watching House.  We can’t get over how many episodes there have been in the season (it started back in September!).  We’re also into this (pretty intense) season of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

Anything interesting on your lists? 🙂

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